Strange tiny insect-like creatures found in the Spanish cave; Research

Scientists have found strange insect-like creatures in the Spanish cave. These tiny creatures have tails to help them in jumping away from the danger.

This research has been published online in the journal Zootaxa.

Scientists have found three insect-like tiny creatures – dubbed Pygmarrhopalites maestrazgoensisP. cantavetulae and Oncopodura fadriquei – that are looking like springtails, which are considered as the most ancient and the widespread animals on the planet.

New springtail species Pygmarrhopalites maestrazgoensis (Credit:  Rafael Jordana; Enrique Barquero)

These tiny creatures have six legs just like insects and have no wings but they are smaller and are considered more ancient. They have hairy bodies and a furca or a tail to jump or spring away from the danger that is why related to springtails. They are small such that many of them cannot be seen with the naked eye. The largest of them are found to be about 0.24 inches long (6 millimeters). One of the species O. fadriquei has no eyes.

Although the temperature inside the caves range from 5°C to 11°C but overall the climate around the cave may range from -40°C to -25°C.

According to a release from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, scientists have planned to study about the creatures’ adaptation to the cold, wet and lightless conditions in the cave.

“Like other cave-adapted animals, the [springtails] require greater chemical sensitivity as they cannot use their sight in the absence of light,” said University of Navarra researcher Enrique Baquero in the statement.

“Studying fauna in the caves allows us to expand on our knowledge of biodiversity,” Baquero said. “In the case of the three new species that we have found in Teruel, they are organisms that have survived totally isolated for thousands of years. Having ‘relatives’ on the surface means they act like relics from the past that have survived the climate change [that has] taken place on the outside of the caves.”

Reference:

Rafael Jordana, Floren Fadrique, Enrique Barquero, (2012). The collembolan fauna of Maestrazgo caves (Teruel, Spain) with description of three new species. Zootaxa, 3502: 49–71